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823 Key Project: Funding Artists Through Fashion

And now we pause for a blast from the past. Remember pager codes? You know, the little numerical coded messages your slightly shady friend would receive from an equally-as-shady significant-other-du-jour via pager circa 1997? If you recall, popular abbreviated missives included 143, which stands for “I love you” in pager terminology, and 823, short for “thinking of you.”

That second code is now the inspiration for an ongoing community art project that seeks to provide artists, photographers, musicians and other worthy creatives with grants of up to $25,000 each through the sale of 21, 398 key necklaces in the coming years.

Dubbed the 823KeyProject, the effort is the brainchild of San Francisco’s Trevor Hubbard and launched earlier this year with a web site selling one-of-a-kind necklaces hung with antique skeleton keys and a pewter tag marked with the number 823 and a letter identifying the key’s series. Along with the “thinking of you” sentiment, the necklaces are also meant to suggest wearers “open a new door,” says project spokesman Russell Ward.

“If you look around at what’s going on in our culture, technology is pulling us away from one another. Capitalism is slashing through the arts left and right...We need to use capitalism to help the arts,” says Ward, who is also the founder of L.A.-based marketing agency The Confluence Group.

Thus far, more than a third of the keys in the first series have been sold. The idea is to sell 823 keys per series. Each series will correspond with a letter of the alphabet. When the first round of keys has been sold, the first grant will be awarded to an artist selected through an application process and sale of the keys in the second series will begin. Applications are available online. Keys currently retail for $75, but we’re told the price will increase as the project grows.

We know, it's a lot to take in. Find out more details by visiting the project web site, befriending it on MySpace or Facebook or following it on Twitter.